TAG | Lactobacillus rhamnosus
No, it isn’t the latest joke, though chances are you have heard the story in the news. But let me just clear something up: there is no actual poop in a new type of “gourmet” sausage developed recently by scientists in Spain—just a beneficial strain of bacteria commonly found in (you guessed it!) baby poop.
For those of us with the inside scoop on poop, it actually makes perfect sense. Food microbiologist and co-author of the study Anna Jofré explained in a recent interview that the two kinds of bacteria used most often in probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are far more abundant in infant poop than in adult excrement. Not only that, said Jofré, but they are easy to obtain.
Jofré and her colleagues at the Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture collected 43 infant fecal samples, from which they isolated three strains of beneficial bacteria. They used those bacteria to create several batches of sausage, and what they found was pretty interesting.
Of the three strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus—a strain commonly found in yogurt and probiotic supplements—became the dominant strain, multiplying to levels of 100 million cells per gram, enough to begin to promote health benefits said Jofré and her team. And as for the taste? “We ate them, and they tasted very good,” said Jofré. (They were even a bit healthier than most types of sausage made in the region, with less fat and salt.)
Of course, right about now you may be asking… Why make sausage with baby poop bacteria in the first place? Well, according to Jofré, probiotic fermented sausages will offer consumers yet another way to include probiotics in their diet, especially for those who are lactose intolerant and can’t eat dairy products.
The gut-brain axis involves the connection of the gut to the brain. This connection goes in both directions—from the brain to the gut and from the gut to the brain. In one way, the gut-brain axis is connected by the vagus nerve—a large nerve connecting the brain to the intestines and other organs. The vagus nerve both sends messages to various organs, and also receives messages from these organs—including the gut—to send to the brain. A new study has established the vagus nerve as a main form of communication from the gut bacteria to the brain.
In an animal model, researchers were able to show that mice fed the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed less stress-, anxiety-, and depression-related behaviors than did mice not fed the bacteria. Further, the probiotic mice had lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, and they also experienced changes in the expression of receptors of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain—highlighting the ability of probiotics to directly affect brain chemistry under normal conditions.
This is an early study that will need to be replicated in humans, but studies like these pave the way for our understanding of the complexities of the gut connection. Did you ever think your gut could have such an effect on your health? If you read my blog regularly, I sure hope so!